If Q3 2020 was any indication, the real estate market in Northern Virginia is still on the rise. Homes are flying off the market at a record pace for more money than they have since our housing boom in the early 2000s. Location independence, outdoor expansion, the need for multi-purpose sanctuaries, and historically low mortgage rates are encouraging residents of Washington, D.C. and its immediate suburbs to set roots further west—in Loudoun County.

Homes Continue to Sell

When the coronavirus first caused shutdowns throughout the nation’s capital region in March, Q2 home sales in Loudoun County in stalled to six-year lows. However, those numbers quickly rebounded in Q3 when 2,023 residential units were sold, the most on record since Q3 2005. That trend also seems to be continuing as 737 homes were sold in October 2020, the most homes sold in October in more than 20 years. For reference, 538 homes were sold in Loudoun in October 2019.

Average Sales Price Continue to Rise

While the number of homes sold continues to trend upward, so does the average price. In Q3 2019, homes in Loudoun County sold for an average of $548,440. In Q3 2020, homes sold for an average of $613,333. The near 12% year-over-year increase is the highest increase in average sale price in Loudoun since 2004–2005. That trend continued into October when Loudoun homes sold for an average of $605,000, a 10% increase versus average sales price in October 2019.

The average home sale price in September 2020 was the highest average sales price for homes in Loudoun in a single month…ever. With inflation, increased home sale prices might seem normal, however, before September 2020, you had to look back to August 2005 for the month with the highest average home sale months in Loudoun.

Homes Continue to Fly Off the Market

Lastly, the listed homes in Loudoun are not lasting long. In Q3 2020, the average home in Loudoun was on the market for just over 18 days, the shortest amount of time on the market in more than 20 years. In Q3 2019, Loudoun homes were on the market for nearly double that at 35 days.

Are These Trends Here to Stay?

We are now nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and people and businesses are fully recognizing the benefits of remote work options. Technologies like Zoom, Google Docs, and Slack or Microsoft Teams mean that coworkers don’t have to be sitting in side-by-side cubicles to keep businesses moving forward. Additionally, many companies are reporting increased employee morale—due to better work-life balance and less time sitting on the Beltway—actually leading to increased productivity outside of the traditional office.

We saw the typically active spring market slide into summer and October was a major indicator that the typically active summer market will slide into the fall. Trends show that people are fully embracing wanting more space, more nature, and more privacy. And smaller communities outside of Washington, D.C. are embracing the changing needs of their changing demographics as well, adding new infrastructure, entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping centers further supporting the westward shift in Northern Virginia’s home buying trends.

Whether you’re looking to move to Loudoun County and enjoy the many things our community has to offer or you’re looking to move even further out of Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan region, 15 West Homes is here to help you whether you’re selling, buying, renting, or staying put.

Market stats provided by Dulles Area Association of Realtors®

In 2017, Gallup published its most recent iteration of its State of the American Workplace report stating that more than 75% of Americans work remotely at least once a week, 43% work remotely at least half time, and 20% work remotely full time.

Up until 2020, those numbers seemed to be on a slow and steady rise. Then in March of 2020, those numbers started to skyrocket due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Before working from home was a realistic, long-term option, home buyers and renters often wanted to live reasonably close to their offices in order to avoid long commutes—and in the D.C.-met, those long commutes were often unavoidable either way. As companies around the world start to recognize the long-term benefits of a remote workforce, and with public schools in Loudoun County introducing distance learning as the primary form of education for the time being, the needs of American home buyers continue to evolve. 

Dedicated office space

One of the major benefits of working from home is the opportunity for better work-life balance. However, without dedicated office spaces, work life often bleeds into home life. As more companies commit to at least partial remote work policies long term, buyers are looking for homes with dedicated office spaces where they can focus on work during working hours then physically leave work behind to spend time with their families. Even if you don’t have a traditional office space at home, there are ways to get creative with your interior design to utilize unconventional spaces as dedicated working areas.

Large outdoor space

A major concern from working from home is not spending enough time outdoors, so, now more than ever, home buyers are interested in houses with large, usable, outdoor spaces. Fenced yards to allow kids and pets to play without needing 100% adult supervision, covered decks where you can get some fresh air during the work day while limiting the glare off your computer screen, and patios where you can barbecue with family and friends in the evening and on the weekends are great features to help you spend more time outdoors. Additionally, houses near parks, recreation areas, and walking and hiking trails offer home buyers alternative and convenient outdoor spaces.

Updated, functional kitchens

The American kitchen is one of the most popular entertaining spaces for family and friends, so wanting an updated kitchen is nothing new. However, as restrictions on restaurants continue and with the additional time remote workers save by not having a commute, cooking at home has become more popular, so more than simply wanting an updated looking kitchen, home buyers are looking for more functional kitchens, including state-of-the-art appliances and creative storage options. 

Moving to the suburbs

When searching for more functional space—both indoors and out—the Loudoun County suburbs become an obvious choice. Even as growth continues, Loudoun maintains an excellent amount of green space with larger houses and larger lots than city living often allows for. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in Northern Virginia, 15 West Homes is here to help you make your house a home.

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I recall reading somewhere recently that homes with a home office sell for 9% more on average than homes without.

This is not at all surprising, especially right now. At no time has a home office been more necessary. With so many people working from home — and many likely to stay in that routine even when, God willing, this pandemic is over — claiming a room or even a quiet “nook” as one’s workspace is essential. And, in fact, many households may need 2+ offices for working spouses and even kids.

Fortunately, there are some creative things you can do to repurpose space into a home office. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a home built with a room intended for a home office, that’s perfect. You can customize the space with cabinets or bookshelves — either built-in or freestanding — as needed.

Here’s an example of a “traditional” style office with some nice built-ins…

home-office-with-bookshelves

You can even claim a loft or “retreat” space and install some inexpensive shelving and a nook for a desk, as shown in this photo. By being smart about utilizing wall space in this way, you also leave plenty of square footage for a couch, as shown, or even other office furniture if you have multiple people sharing the space.

inexpensive-office-shelving

This particular loft is light-filled due to the skylights above and makes a quiet getaway for productive work-time, far away from any noise and chaos on levels below! You could even fashion a home office in an attic, providing you are able to finish the space with heat and air conditioning. With the desk off to the side, you have room for a comfy sectional sofa, too!

loft-retreat-home-office

If you’re limited on space in the home and need to have a “shared” workspace, I love the idea of this table with his/hers chairs on either side. If that’s too distracting for you, you can always situate his/her desks against opposite walls. It’s fun to put a small sofa, chaise lounge or comfy chair in this space as well — for times when you want to relax and read or just take a break from working at the desk.

His-and-hers-desk-in-home-office

One of my favorite home offices I’ve run across recently was the one below, in a model home. Upon entering the foyer through the front door, you see this “wall” of wooden slats. It affords a degree of privacy but allows some natural light to filter into the office and prevents it from feeling closed off. It adds a cool design element as well.

Home-office-with-wall-of-slats

Another favorite — for a relatively small space — was this long, narrow space off the front foyer fashioned into a home office.

Home-office-in-small-space

The office above is on the left once you walk in the front door, and I love the barn door that is both functional and decorative.

Barn-door-to-home-office

Here’s a third view of this room…The first thing you’ll notice when looking into this room is the functional bookshelves framing the beautiful window.

Bookshelves-in-home-office

And finally, there are always creative ways to maximize even little nooks like this one under a staircase (it reminds me of Harry Potter’s “cupboard under the stairs!”).  While not large, it’s functional and private — with few distractions.

desk-under-staircase

Similarly, many years ago we had one of two large closets in our older son’s room converted into a nook with a built-in desk and shelves above. After all, a boy doesn’t need two big closets! Our contractor removed the sliding closet doors and crafted a beautiful desk with file drawers on each side and shelves above — and with track lighting shining down on the desk. Our son has actually used this desk regularly over the years (especially when he was home from college finishing up the spring semester online!)

So, as you can see, all it takes is thinking outside the box. You needn’t have a big budget, either. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you need some ideas of how to better utilize your home’s rooms as your lifestyle adapts to the increased amount of time spent at home.